Local Food, Straight from the Backyard


A couple of weeks ago, Kemper Barkhurst at EnvironmentalSurvival.com dropped me a note about a concept he was developing: urban harvesting. In his post on the topic, Kemper notes that much (perhaps most) of the food we eat in the US travels long distances to get from farm to plate; at the same time, many people with fruit trees in their own yards let that produce go to waste. The urban harvesting service that Kemper’s proposing would assist home and landowners with harvesting that fruit:

Our mission is to directly connect this otherwise wasted fruit with the local markets, processing facilities, and food banks. We also plan to share all our experiences with this service by openly extending this information with the rest of the World. We hope others will adopt our strategy and start similar services in their own community.

Like Christopher Uhl’s neighborhood gardening concept, urban harvesting is incredibly simple and sensible. There’s no mystery to why fruit that’s as local as our own backyards often goes to waste: Kemper notes “..most homeowners lack the time and interest to properly share or store this food.” But, of course, there are people and organizations that could use this locally-grown bounty, so Urban Harvest plans to connect the supply of and demand for this fruit that will otherwise rot.

Kemper would like to put the concept into practices next season: all he needs is some seed money to get it started. He entered Urban Harvesting into ideablob.com‘s monthly contest for $10,000 in start-up money, and has made it into the finals. The winner is determined by votes from the ideablob community, and the November contest ends tomorrow.

So, why not give this budding ecopreneur some help: if you like Kemper’s idea, go vote for it at ideablob. I’ll even sweeten the pot a bit: if he wins, I’d love to have him join us and blog about the experience of starting up the service next year. Let’s all wish Kemper some luck… and go give him a vote!

Image credit: Kemper Barkhurst

  1. Brave New Leaf

    What an excellent idea. There are so many great concepts similar to this that are possible: take existing good things that are going to waste, leverage that as your free inventory, and provide the service of distributing it amongst the populace. I hope this becomes a big trend that we see amongst businesses.

  2. Rebecca

    This is an idea that makes so much sense! There is a group here in Portland, OR, who has put into practice the same concept. They are Portland Fruit Tree Project. Perhaps Kemper, or anyone else seriously interested, might want to contact the group.
    I’m a filmmaker and I did a documentary short (around 2minutes), which is posted here: http://cookingupastory.com/index.php/2007/10/31/urban-fruit-gleaning/ , if you’d like to see exactly what they are doing.

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